College Basketball Preseason Top 25: #1 Kansas


1. Kansas Jayhawks

This was supposed to be the first true rebuilding year in the Bill Self era. It was supposed to be a year when the Jayhawks would be on the outside looking in on the Top 25, when Oklahoma State would rise up and seize the Big 12 crown–the first time a team other than Kansas had done so since 2004. The Jayhawks were supposed to bow out early in the NCAAs, and prepare for a big year in 2015. But then, the kid some are calling the best high school recruit since LeBron James decided he was coming to Lawrence. And everything changed. Kansas went from fringe Top 25 team to national championship contender.

In an era where YouTube and smartphones have made instant player evaluation easy, it’ll still be a trip to see Andrew Wiggins finally suit up for the Jayhawks in an actual game. But if he’s as good as they say, this Kansas team  has a chance to be special. Wiggins is 6-8, 200 pounds, with an explosive perimeter game, a money jumper and a knack for finishing with flair. He’s got a Harrison Barnes-type body, but plays bigger than that, especially on defense. Self has already said that Wiggins is “as talented as any player I’ve ever had,” and that’s saying something coming from him. If he can adjust to the college game quickly, Wiggins could have a Kevin Durant-like impact.

But there are other things to like about this Kansas team. Big man Tarik Black (8.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg) has transferred from Memphis and could blossom into a terrific player under Self’s tutelage. He’s got the potential to become a Thomas Robinson type, and could become one of the best big men in college basketball. 6-5 freshman guard Wayne Selden is another talented newcomer who would have been the prize recruit of the bunch had Wiggins not committed. He should have an immediate impact as well. Junior point guard Naadir Tharpe looks to take the keys to the offense, and 6-8 sophomore Perry Ellis has the potential to break out like Robinson, Jeff Withey, and others have once given big-time minutes under Self.

BOTTOM LINE: This team is tremendously talented, but also tremendously young, so don’t expect things to come together immediately. As good a coach as Bill Self is, he doesn’t have a lot of experience coaching these type of freshmen-dominated teams. (He’s not John Calipari). Still, with all of this talent and Self’s brilliant track record, it’s hard to imagine that Kansas won’t be an incredibly dangerous team come March. The best high school player since LeBron James will only be in Lawrence for one year. The Jayhawks’ job is to make the most of it. We think they’ll ride Wiggins all the way to a national title.

Click here to see No. 2 in our rankings.

Click here to see our Entire Top 25.


  1. Pingback: College Basketball Preseason Top 25: #2 Louisville

  2. Pingback: College Basketball Season Preview: Top 25

  3. Pingback: College Basketball Season Preview: Top 25

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *